Hundreds of lottery ticket sellers with the Kenya Charity Sweepstake woke up one morning to find that their kiosks, their main source of livelihood, had been demolished by the Nairobi City Council on orders from then-mayor Dick Wathika.

Dick Wathika

The late Dick Wathika.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

He had set the ground for the Bulgarians who would later establish Sportpesa. 

Guerassim Nikolov sportpesa

SportPesa co-founder Guerassim Nikolov.

Photo credit: Pool

If SportPesa were a puppet, Bulgarian businessman Guerassim Nikolov would be its master; the man behind the velvety curtains, the unseen hand pulling strings and directing the orchestra. But he was not the only Bulgarian involved. 

This is the story of how Sportpesa rose like a whirlwind and became a national sensation. The story of who pulled what strings and the men and women who pocketed the billions.